Why CaptCliff Makes Peace Pipes

Kabuki Pipe
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The Peace Pipe and the Therapist
I began making pipes as a part-time hobby sometime in the 90’s. Initially I was interested in the idea of the Native-American peace pipe, it’s use in rituals, as well as it’s visual representation as a “peace offering”. As a result much of my pipe art has a “tribal” look. I began giving away some of my handcrafted pipes as birthday gifts to certain close friends either as unusual”retro looking” smoking devices or as home decor/display items. My friends’ enthusiasm for my art encouraged me to improve upon my 8the grade woodworking skills and begin to create more elaborate pipes made from colorful found objects and sustainable materials including bamboo.

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Precisely why I give a certain pipe or sacred container/box to someone is not always clear to me. If I know the person’s spirit animal or animal “totem” then it is a no-brainer. Other times it’s just part of an unspoken creative and spiritual process that seems to underlie my pipe fetish/hobby. While often tongue-in-cheek and consistent with my sarcastic personality I also consider my peace pipes to be a serious form of healing art. The recipients of each pipe are the chosen “holders” of the energy (both male and female) in each completed pipe and I like to believe they link me to their owners in a positive heart-centered way.

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As a creative process (a bit like “free association” in therapy and psychoanalysis) I just let the pipe-making “come” to me. I listen to what my inner voice (who I refer to as my “Picasso Pooh”) has to say about the particular pipe and the manner in which I choose to “adorn” it. I usually know if it is coming out “right” by how the process flows and what materials seem to want to be included (versus what falls off much to my egotistic OCD-ish dismay). If I find myself struggling to make something work, it probably isn’t right. Either way I often end up with alot of glue, paint, and bits of fabric on my hands and fingers by the end of the day….

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In Kabbalah it says we “give by receiving” and we “receive by giving”. By giving someone something “special” and meaningful I also receive something positive from the “receiver”especially if they choose to think of it in the same sort of way. At the very same time I enrich and improve my connection to God. The deeper meaning or personal significance  that each pipe represents is sort of the cherry on top. While the act of smoking with my pipes is optional (kind of like nudity at the right clearly designated beach) they can also be used as purely symbolic elements in a sacred ceremony/ritual or as a potent visual representation of something important.

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Spiritually speaking, I believe we are here on Earth in this conflict-ridden and complicated world not just to “survive”, amass wealth or compete with one another for survival but rather to explore the “art of living” through increased compassion, greater love, forgiveness and understanding. Sometimes such lofty objectives are easier said than done. Marriage vows, for example, speak of a lifelong mutual commitment to love, cherish and “be there” for our chosen mate. At times, however, we forget and fail to keep such a sensible and fundamental agreement. My peace pipes are therefore also meant as an everpresent reminder to give and seek forgiveness and to remain present (mindful) and focused on our personal goals and individual core values. Just as we are free to choose a profession or life path filled with meaning, inspiration and creativity, we can also choose the kind of art, music, and mythology to use in our healing, recovery, and growth.

Cliff Mazer, Ph.D.

About captaincliff

Psychologist by day, insomniac Pirate blogger by night, this Child of God likes to share sarcastic social commentary as well as topsy-turvy observations about life, love and the pursuit of zaniness, a functional form of insanity in an increasingly insane world
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